Capturing Ephemeral Beauty
The term “ephemeral” is sort of the opposite of “immortal”. That which is “ephemeral” passes away. It is impermanent. In fact, it is especially impermanent. This is part of what gives flowers their beauty. They’re available “for a limited time only”, as the saying goes. The most robust flowers only last a brief while, and then they’re gone.
Photography is perfect for capturing ephemeral beauty. Granted, there’s nothing like actually seeing a gorgeous flower in healthy bloom during the right season. A picture can’t recreate that experience. But it can tell a thousand words, as the old saying goes, and communicate the spirit of such beauty.
Following we’ll explore four creative ways you can creatively photograph flowers in a way that, at least in part, captures the ephemeral beauty of these multicolored plants.
- Use Filters to Create Sequences Right Out of a Fantasy
- Here’s a link to some tactics for using photography to capture dreamy flowers. You can take things a bit further by taking a well-centered, well-lit photo, and then editing the details after the fact. A real flower cut-and-pasted into a sci-fi background through photoshop represents an uncanny contrast that can be aesthetically interesting.
You can also use varying techniques to change how the actual picture is captured. Have you ever seen films where a soft lens is used to make some ingenue representing a love interest appear especially beautiful? Similar tactics can be brought to bear on floral photography.
- Depth of Field Can Emphasize Particular Flowers
Depth of field refers to where the focus is centered in a given picture, you can read about it in detail here. Essentially, you can have a flower in the foreground that’s crystal clear, while everything in the background is blurred. You can inverse that as well, making the flower up-close and blurry, and the background crystal clear. Either approach can be artistically valid.
- Floral Silhouettes Are Suggestive and Mysterious
During the “magic hour” just before and after sunset, and just before and after dawn, you can get some amazing light on naturally-growing flowers.
You can also set your camera up with the flower near the lens such that the light is behind it, and a shadow is cast silhouetting the plant. Especially if you’re taking a picture of a long-stemmed single bloom, this can be a gorgeous way to capture a flower on film; be it physical or “digital”.
- Counterpoint: Flowers in Interior Settings
Something else you can do is juxtapose biology with infrastructure. So you might bring a big bouquet into a featureless, flat matte gray indoor space. Imagine a massive bouquet of roses centered in a room with nothing else. The contrast alone has artistic value. Conversely, flowers can be the perfect “cherry on top” of interior décor.
If you’ve got a room that’s exquisitely decorated, putting flowers in the area strategically and capturing a photo can be very interesting. If you’re going this route, remember the rule of thirds in photography; here’s a link to that for some deeper background.
Photographic Floral Art Made By You
Counterpoint and contrast are important concepts to master in photography generally, and especially as regards capturing pictures of flowers. Going the silhouette route can produce some breathtaking photos, though getting the balance right can be a bit of a challenge.
Depth of field mastery will help you get flowers in proper focus as intended. You can contrast them with the background, or contrast the background with the foreground. This is a good tactic to know. Lastly, filters and soft lenses can help give flowers that romantic “fuzz” associated with such artistry.